Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is
write. There are going to betimes when our brains are fried, our imaginations are dried up, and our lives aredemanding we put non-writing priorities first.In these situations, is it ever acceptable to just surrender and throw down thepen for a while? My answer is
. In fact, sometimes it’s wise todeliberately plan to stop writing. Let’s consider a few instances in which
writing is not only acceptable but important.
1. To let a story breathe
By the time we finish writing a novel, our objectivity will have packed its bagsand headed to Rio. We can edit the darn thing until we’re blue in the face, butwe’re not likely to
see what’s wrong with it until we’re able to put a littledistance between ourselves this story we’ve grown to love (or, perhaps, hate).Once I finish a first draft, I edit the manuscript three times to correct obvioustypos and continuity errors. Then I set it aside for as much as a year. I don’tlook at it; I don’t think about it. I just wait until my gut starts telling me myobjectivity has boarded its return flight back from vacation.
2. To work on a different project
We may have any number of good reasons to stop writing a particular book andfocus on something else. This something else might be another story, a non-fiction book, or something totally unrelated to writing: painting, crocheting,playing football, having a baby, you name it.If you’re lucky enough to be interested and talented in other art forms, you canalternate between projects to keep yourself fresh and interested in both. In hisarticle “The 20-story summer” in the May 2013 issue of
, Eric D.Lehman calls this “feeding the brain machine so I could go back to the bigproject with new insights and abilities.”
3. To schedule a regular day off
You take a day off from work every week, so why not writing? I write six daysout of the week, but I always schedule one day off out of every week and hold
5 Reasons You Should Stop Writing